What I’m Lovin’ Right Now | The V-Day Edition

As I think about it, there are several stages to the Valentine’s Day experience I believe many women go through. As a kid, you were forced encouraged to swap Valentine’s with your classmates, literally walking home with tons of cards and heart-shaped candy (along with the biggest sugar rush ever to your parent’s delight). In middle school, you sent candy grams to all your girlfriends, and they to you, as a mark of solidarity. In high school, somehow that all changed and you watched with disdain that only the popular girls somehow now got all the candy grams delivered right in the middle of English class. In college, you were just plain bummed to be single and/or annoyed by all the hoop-la so you holed up in your dorm room watching movies until this ridiculous excuse for a holiday was over. In your early twenties, Valentine’s Day became “Single’s Appreciation Day,” and you were as Destiny’s Child once said, an “Independent Woman” so you’d grab your single girlfriends and make your own rules (I don’t need no man!). And then one day, whatever day or age it may be, you meet your Valentine.

From there, it may revert back to the early twenties stage where you find yourself celebrating Single’s Appreciation Day again after a break-up; or perhaps after years in a relationship, it just becomes another day.

I think I’ve gone through almost (almost) every iteration of the typical women’s Valentine’s Day experience. This year, I happen to be on the team that has a Valentine and he’s always good about making it special.

While I’m aware, and in complete agreement with those that think, that love (and flowers, and chocolate, and kind words) should come more than once a year on a consumerist driven holiday, I couldn’t help but dedicate a little space to that thing we call love and all the hoop-la surrounding it.

Here’s what I’m lovin’ right now…the Valentine’s Day edition…

V-Day WILRN

  1. SAY | 30 Ways to Say “I Love You” | Huffington Post.
  2. BAKE | Skinny Pink Champagne Cupcakes  | The Skinny Fork.
  3. UNWIND | Jo Malone “Red Roses” Bath Oil | Nordstrom.
  4. WEAR | Pink Knot Front Dress | Victoria’s Secret.
  5. PAINT | Festive Valentine’s Day Mani.
  6. COOK | 15 Creative Dinner Ideas for Celebrating Valentine’s Day | All Yummy Recipes.
  7. CREATE | Personalized M&M’s | My M&M’s
  8. CRAFT | D.I.Y. Frosted Vase |  A Beautiful Mess.
  9. BRIGHTEN | Pure Color Cheek Rush in X-Pose Rose | Estee Lauder.
  10. SMEAR | The Kiss Lip Balm | Lush.
  11. BUY |  Handmade Valentine’s Day Cards | Sew Colorful Designs.
  12. WATCH | The Top Romantic Movies for Valentine’s Day | Better Homes and Gardens.

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Highlights

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{Slowly starting to feel like my old self again. Who-hoo!}

Between the common cold and  general life stresses, the last few weeks have been rough. The great news is that things are falling somewhat back into place and I’m starting to feel like my old self again. I’m happy to report that I even went to my first yoga class after a month off, and while it wasn’t at my fancy schmansy yoga studio, it was a lovely class better suited to my price range and it was so nice to get back on the mat.

Otherwise, this week has been all about re-balancing things and trying to enjoy life’s little pleasures. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying the taste of food again since my sinuses finally cleared up. And the fact that I can actually breathe in and out without much effort is quite divine. It’s when you get sick that you once you recover you really start to appreciate even the simplest of things as this.

I don’t have much going on this weekend as of typing this, but I do have a lot of life and errand catching up to do since I was bed-ridden all last weekend. I’m looking forward to starting a new novel (though I’m not sure what yet) after finishing And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. While I found the book to one of the most eloquently written I think I’ve ever read, with engaging stories and characters, the book turned out to be rather anti-climatic for some reason to me in the end. I was waiting for the life-altering bomb to drop that would throw the narrative into a surprising new direction. I realize that because each chapter focuses on the perspective of one person among a group of interconnected characters over many generations, that it may be hard to do this – but I felt rather unsatisfied as I finished the last page. Perhaps it’s time to shake things up with a good mystery/thriller!

So as we close out another week, I’m grateful I made it through my first cold in years and ready to enjoy the rest of the summer. Cheers to a great weekend!

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{How to survive the common cold: lots of Kleenex and a day with the girls.}

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{On dessert duty for girl’s night at Buttercelli.}

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{Enjoying a moment in the grass.}

Sprinkles Ice Cream

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Where: Sprinkles Ice Cream

Location: 9631 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills

It’s the battle of the ice cream gods and I, for one, love some healthy competition! Not too long ago, I made the small trek over to the 90210 to check out the Ice Cream Lab, the newest addition to the South Santa Monica Boulevard family. This futuristic inspired ice cream parlor had the balls courage to open its doors down the street from the famed Sprinkles Cupcakes empire, that also opened a counterpart ice cream shop next door last spring. What better excuse to add a little ice cream to my beloved Sprinkles cupcake this time around to compare and contrast who does it best when it comes to a proper brain freeze? (The things I do in the name of blogging!)

Hands down, Sprinkles Ice Cream blows the Ice Cream Lab out of the water!

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While the Ice Cream Lab relies on the unique power to instantly create your frozen treat using liquid nitrogen machines right in front of you;  ultimately, it’s the limitations in their menu that weaken their panache for me. Sprinkles does what I think always works best: keep it simple, and keep it customizable. Not only do you have a large selection of ice cream flavors to choose from, your frosty delicacy is served in a myriad of ways: in a red velvet waffle cone, as a sundae, between cupcake tops or cookies for a sandwich, or just keep it basic and in a cup with toppings galore. Bonus points in my book for the option to also create a milkshake, malt, or even a float if the mood strikes you. The fun with Sprinkles Ice Cream is that the options are endless.

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On this particular Saturday afternoon visit, I stopped into the two-tone red and white parlor and indulged in a Sprinkles sundae (first pictured above for your viewing pleasure). It’s a scoop of ice cream with one cupcake of your choice. I had to go with their famous red velvet cupcake and the vanilla bean ice cream. The taste and texture of the slow churned ice cream with the moist fluffy cake covered with thick frosting was pure heaven (and yes, I was on a sugar high for the next three hours).

Admittedly, it’s a pricey treat, but one that I am a-okay to give in to occasionally.  It’s no secret that I am a fan of Sprinkles cupcakes and when paired together with their fresh gourmet ice cream…there are no words. Summer is in 3 days gang – and I plan to spend a few of them with a quick stop here after hitting the gym twice a day, of course! (yeah right). Hope to see you there! xx

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Cupcakes and L.A. Hipsters

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Location: 3337 West Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake

I love when cupcakes just appear out of nowhere, when you least expect it, and didn’t even know you wanted needed it. My rendezvous in Silver Lake to try out the grilled cheese place getting a lot of buzz continued when I noticed between bites of my sandwich over lunch the number of people walking in and out of the shop next door. Most importantly, they were exiting with cupcakes boxes in hand. Talk about the universe always working on your behalf!

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Simply put, I LOVE cupcakes (you can read my thoughts on some of my favorite L.A. places herehere, and here) and this couldn’t be a coincidence that Lark Silver Lake Cake Shop happened to be a mere 15 steps away. After devouring the best grilled cheese sandwich I think I’ve ever had, we headed over for an impromptu dessert fix.

Lark Silver Lake Cake Shop has all the fixings for a great experience. They display a large selection of cupcakes, cakes, cookies and goodies (even gluten free and vegan options) inside an inviting and charming establishment. In fact, it was so welcoming (and to be quite honest we were just dying to eat dessert by that point) that we sat in the well-dressed interior space and devoured our frosted covered carbs right there.

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The Berry Shortcake Cupcake hit my tongue 30 seconds later and my mouth did the happy dance. Let’s just say it was a sexy experience: white cake filled with “Crème Patisserie” topped with a whip creme frosting and a strawberry.

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{Berry Shortcake Cupcake – before.}

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{After.}

The City of Silver Lake and its small business owners are going to love me because not only am I fully endorsing that you get over to Heywood for the best grilled cheese in town, you have to complete that experience with a trip next door to Lark for dessert.

Here’s to killing two birds with one stone!

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Highlights

Happy February! Looking forward to pigging out making smart eating choices and screaming at the TV on Superbowl Sunday. GO NINERS!! Of course, I’ll already have done the “healthy” thing before then by taking in a yoga class to restore my chi and burn a few calories first.

Here are some happy moments since last week – I’m noticing a lot of them involved food. Have a nice weekend!

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{Indulging my sweet tooth.}

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{Indulging my sweet tooth…again. Say hello to a Caramel Praline Crunch cupcake.}

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{This awesome mural spotted on the way to eat cheese. Read more here.}

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{My new red shoes.}

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{A strawberry Italian soda brightened a rather mundane afternoon.}

Grilled Cheese and L.A. Hipsters

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Location: 3337 West Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake

The one part of town that I can’t say I spend much time in is with my east side L.A. hipsters (shout out to my friends in Silver Lake and Loz Feliz!). Admittedly, if I’m writing a blog about life in L.A., they should get more of a representation, especially since this side of town is really on the up-and-up and driving a lot of the trends. Luckily, my boyfriend heard through the grapevine about Heywood: A Grilled Cheese Shoppe and we happily crossed through Hollywood-land into Silver Lake territory. What better reason to leave our neck of the woods than to sit outside on a sunny afternoon and indulge in the comfort of a good grilled cheese sandwich? I couldn’t think of one. And the following snapshot of my meal confirmed I made the right decision:

(Feel free to click the picture to see the awesomeness up close and personal). 🙂

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{Caprese:  mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, roma tomatoes and a light walnut pesto spread on sourdough bread. Hello! Yummy!}

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What Pinkberry did for frozen yogurt, Umami did for burgers, and Sprinkles did for cupcakes, Heywood is doing for the universally loved grilled cheese sandwich. You can custom make your own cheesy number or order from the fixed menu. Since grilled cheese and tomato soup are like peanut better and jelly (well – close enough), I thought the spiced tomato soup dipper (delish!) and the spring mix salad rounded out the components for an amazing meal. I have nothing but great things to say about this place (other than the water is clearly not filtered, so prepare for that awesome tap water taste – yuck!).

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{Interior.}

Finally, good news for my wheat intolerant and vegan friends, Heywood thought of you too with gluten free bread and vegan cheese and butter options. Even better news for late night partiers, those leaving that poetry reading with nowhere to go, the girl who didn’t want to eat on her first date in front of the man of her dreams, or those who just need some comfort food, Heywood is open until 3am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I’ll see you there!

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Georgetown Cupcake Comes To L.A.

Location: 143 South Robertson Boulevard, Mid-City West

The opening of a new cupcake shop is almost (read: almost) as exciting as opening a Christmas present. What will the store look like? What flavors do they have? How well dressed (read: decorative) will the tiny cakes be? More importantly, how awesome will the experience be when you take that first bite?  Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed.

Georgetown Cupcake couldn’t have picked a better location to open its doors a little over a week ago. The shop sits on the very trendy, very busy, and VERY expensive Robertson Boulevard shopping district (read: rich people’s playground), Beverly Hills adjacent.

All my questions were finally answered a few days ago after a long anticipated wait, when we stopped in for an afternoon treat and unwrapped Georgetown’s sweet present. The store was very simplistic and welcoming in design; lots of white walls, with minimal artwork (all pictures of cupcakes, of course), hardwood floors with only a few tables in-store to sit and enjoy your frosted covered carb.

My favorite thing about Georgetown was the display of cupcakes sitting right in front of you, fully stocked, and perfectly organized in a way that made you want each and every one of them. One of my pet peeves with Sprinkles and other major cupcakeries in town is when you walk into the store and the bakery display is nearly empty, instantaneously making you feel like the flavors you want are already out of stock for the day (many times they are, other times they haven’t replaced stock yet). Not at Georgetown, they didn’t even grab our order from the counter display as they had tons of cupcakes sitting on racks behind the counter. Cupcakes everywhere! This made me happy. 🙂

{Cupcakes everywhere!}

Since I was between pumpkin pie feedings left over from Thanksgiving, with more than half a pie to still get through, I splurged on just one cupcake this time around – the lemon blossom. This cupcake was amazing; moist, flavorful, and my favorite part, lemony.

{Lemon Blossom.}

{First bite.}

I will add for my wheat intolerant friends, that my boyfriend didn’t seemed as impressed with his gluten-free lava fudge cupcake. He had issue with the frosting, and while saying that he would come again, he left Georgetown still a loyal fan of Cupcakes Couture in not so close-by Manhattan Beach for his wheat-free fix. I, on the other hand, literally had an internal dialogue in my head talking myself out of buying another.

When I’m done digesting all of the food I ate over the long holiday weekend, and detox all of the pumpkin pie still sitting in my body right now (too much info?), I’ll be back.

Welcome to L.A. Georgetown! I’m sure you’ll like the weather.